nativism - an alternative to piaget within cognitive development

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  • Created on: 18-06-12 11:51

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Alternative to Piaget - Nativist Explanations
Piaget proposed a constructivist approach (the child constructs its own knowledge through schemas)
to learning, but this idea has been challenged by nativist explanations.
This view states that human characteristics are innate or a result of nature. Babies display certain
abilities that they cannot have learned in the previous environment. For example, babies are born
with the ability to acquire language rather than `learning' it from their environment.
Another example is the idea of `depth perception' where very young infants can understand the idea
of edges and falling.
Search tasks ­ Piaget's test for object permanence
Failure to search could imply lack of object permanence or:
o Loss of interest (limited cognitive ability)
o Limited working memory (short-term memory)
o Inability to coordinate search movements
Competence vs performance
A child might have object permanence (competence) but still not be able to search
o Competence = underlying ability to do something
o Performance = whether someone actually does it
Piaget's search task mixes up competence and performance, leading him to underestimate
infants' abilities
Research to challenge Piaget
Meltzoff and Borton (1979) ­ cross-model integration
Bower et al. (1971) ­ tracking moving objects
o 5 month-old infants' visual tracking was recorded as they watched a moving object
disappear behind a screen
Baillargeon (1986) ­ impossible event (truck and obstacle)
Baillargeon (1991) ­ impossible event (carrot and screen)
Baillargeon (1985; 1987)
Used the habitation paradigm
o Infants will spend more time looking at new things
o They are shown a stimulus until they look away (habituation)
o They are then shown other stimuli based on the first

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Differences in looking time show that the infant can tell the difference between the stimuli
4 month-old infants habituated and then shown `possible' and `impossible events'
o Piaget thought 8 months old ­ criticisms: wrong method; confusing competence with
Baillargeon found that infants would look for longer at impossible events…read more


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